This might not be the most appropriate topic to dive into during your pre-bedtime reading, as there are some aspects to this that I find extremely disturbing. I recently learnt about this area of focus and it's been playing my mind ever since. Most of what I write in this post is my opinion. As opinions generally go, they could be wrong and if you think so, i'd love to hear what you have to say!
Let's get to this beautiful movement.
What is transhumanism? I'll let wikipedia define it for me.
Transhumanism (abbreviated as H+ or h+) is an international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities. Transhumanist thinkers study the potential benefits and dangers of emerging technologies that could overcome fundamental human limitations, as well as study the ethical matters involved in developing and using such technologies. They predict that human beings may eventually be able to transform themselves into beings with such greatly expanded abilities as to merit the label "posthuman".
So that was a bit vague, so let me try and put things into perspective. Technology has been exponentially making our lives easier. And if you're in your 20s, it IS an integral part of your life already. But let's not treat technology as a 'part' of your life anymore, let's consider that your life and your existence 'requires' it, almost as much as most humans require to interact with others and be social. So yeah, technology is a pretty big deal now. This is Transhumansim.. sort of. You've enhanced your life, your intellect (hopefully!) and you've scaled your capabilities as a human just by being exposed to infinite amounts of data and ridiculously quick computing at your finger-tips. And the scary thing is, the rate at which technology is improving is also increasing, so it's extremely difficult to accurately predict what's coming next and we aren't able to foresee the consequences of most of our discoveries. That's where ethics and intellect get involved. Now you must be wondering why ethics are of major concern, when all that technology is doing for me right now is showing me tweets on my watch and the time on my glasses. But let's try and look beyond all that.
Transhumanism believes that humans will soon transform themselves into beings of expanded intellect and capabilities using technology. There's another approach to Transhumanism which aims to model or replicate the human mind into a digital system, using Artificial Intelligence, Neural Networks, Brain Mapping, DNA Mapping, Brain Modelling etc etc. And this would be the "Singularity" that everyone is talking about. We, as humans, will change ourselves so drastically that many claim goes against all laws of nature and evolution. That though, is a matter of opinion and I will draw a line at that. It maybe possible, one day, to "upload" your consciousness onto a 'computer'. Now you must be wondering.. "Hey, Johnny Depp came up with that recently" and you're right!
That's what this movie seems to be all about and i'm definitely going to be amongst the first to watch it.
That's one way of looking at it. Another approach to achieving the "POSTHUMAN" state would be if we could wire our brains to a grid of endless data and super computation. We've got the endless data and super computation bit covered with the Internet. So that's one requirement checked off the list, but how are we going to put something in our brains that will allow us to technically become a 'node' in a huge network of data. Now again you must be wondering "HEY! Josh Holloway has one of those chip things in his head that does that, right?!" and you're right again.
What you're seeing in the show "Intelligence" is a derivative or branch of the 'posthuman' condition. I watch this show religiously and i'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good sci-fi action.
Transhumanism is a movement which will merge all fields of science and technology, and will finally let human beings transcend their physical limitations. We've pretty much got most of the groundwork started. We've got humanoid robots that are almost perfectly capable of mimic'ing human motion, with added features/tweaks that allow them to do things that aren't 'humanly' possible. All they need right now is a complex and powerful framework of intelligence to run them and make them conscious. So if someday you can upload your consciousness onto a robot, there might be a copy of you that 'exists' and does all the things you could never do, like read every sci-fi blogpost ever written.. or watch every movie ever. Ok, if that's what you were actually thinking of doing with a copy of yourself that you or someone else spent billions of dollars creating, I clearly think you need to rethink your priorities.
If you want to get into some of the stories that are using methods of "questionable ethics" (in my opinion), have a look at this documentary:
Note: I think if you're trying to make humanity better by cutting two monkeys' heads off and switching their bodies, you've lost sight of what 'better' means. And there is clearly no 'ethics' in that movement. It might be a breakthrough in transplantation and proof that the 'soul', if it exists, isn't limited to the body, but if we, as humans, are one day going to play god and achieve the posthuman state ourselves, we have to do it the right way and build it around a system that was founded on morals and principles. I think there needs to be more stress put on the ethics involved rather than the technology.
Another interesting video on the Transhuman movement was this one. It's a lot less
extreme' and some of the key points that are discussed here are fantastic. Definitely worth watching.
(img source: Wikipedia)
If you've read this in it's entirety, I would love to discuss this further and learn about your opinions, so don't hesitate to comment below.